February 27, 2011

BRIGITTE FONTAINE ET ARESKI - Le Bonheur (1975)





























Brigitte Fontaine recorded a solid string of avantfolk albums for the ineffable Saravah label in the seventies that started with her pop-oriented debut, Est Folle... (1968, arranged by Jean-Claude Vannier!). Beginning in the late 60s, Fontaine partnered up with fellow musician/actor Areski Belkacem; the pair continue to record together today. Their records in the 70s were a mix of theatre performance, non-rhyming chanson folk, and a sophisticated confluence of musical styles accentuated by Areski's exotic percussion and the duo's constant experimentation. Le Bonheur is Fontaine and Areski's follow up to L'Incendie (1974), a cult favorite as the years go by and their most cohesive record (not to say cohesive's the gold standard). Areski also joined Fontaine for Comme à la Radio (1970), a mind-blowing collaborative album with the face painting free-jazz troupe, the Art Ensemble of Chicago. Within a minimalist aesthetic, reflected in their sparse 2-track recording style, the pair create a hushed atmosphere and steadfast intimacy that doesn't appear to age. Naturally, Le Bonheur was recorded in the dead of winter in a theater, a kitchen, and also a studio.

February 26, 2011

February 21, 2011

LARRY YOUNG - Contrasts (1967) + Mother Ship (1969)


Larry Young, later Khalid Yasin, was born into his peculiar position as the post-bop era's jazz organist. The Jr. to professional organist Larry Young Sr., Larry was trained by his father in classical and jazz piano from the time he was a toddler. His passion for the organ came when his father opened a nightclub called The Shindig in downtown Newark, New Jersey. Naturally, he had an Hammond organ installed there, and Larry Jr. gravitated to the instrument's distinct qualities. He quickly mastered the difficult Hammond B-3, leading his own jazz combo before he was old enough to play in clubs. He also sang bass for the Operetta Club and local R&B group, the Challengers. By the time he signed to Prestige, he was solely committed to jazz and the Hammond. In 1964, he switched to Blue Note, where his music was heavily influenced by John Coltrane and a shift in his own consciousness. He experimented with drugs, Eastern music, and unique ability to play with resonance and dissonance with the Hammond's modal pedals. At Blue Note, he was given free rein to experiment, but his musical expansion eventually moved beyond jazz as a genre. He began to infuse his music with his earlier influences of R&B and rock 'n' roll, but only to further venture into more experimental realms of musical possibility. After Blue Note decided not to release Mother Ship, Young left the label, converted to Islam, changed his name to Khalid Yasin, and went on to play in some of the most successful experimental jazz-fusion outfits of the 1970s, including Tony Williams' Lifetime Trio (1969-71), Miles Davis' Bitches Brew ensemble (1970), free rock trio, Love Cry Want (1972), even a session with Jimi Hendrix (1969). His sudden death to unknown causes at the age of 37 remains a mystery today, but bears the all too familiar hand of a black ops assassin.
 
Like the recent blog favorite Lawrence of Newark (1973), Contrasts (1967) was recorded with a large ensemble of musicians Larry knew coming up in Newark. Both albums explore a soul-jazz style reminiscent of first-generation B-3 master, Jimmy Smith, and also Eddie Gale's contemporary Blue Note efforts, yet more experimental than both. Contrasts was largely overlooked upon its release and far less successful than Unity (1965) or Of Love and Peace (1966). It's as free a session as the quartet that created Mother Ship (1969), which was so far out that Blue Note sat on it until 1980, effectively ending their relationship with Young. Both Contrasts and Mother Ship feature saxophonist Herbert Morgan and drummer Eddie Gladden. Lee Morgan completes the quartet on Mother Ship, one of his final Blue Note recordings before being murdered on stage by his ex-common law wife. On these quintessential post-bop records, Larry Young's whoozy organ plays under and over the other instruments, feeling every bit as good as Unity (1964) but occupying the same interstellar space of his free jazz explorations in later years.

CONTRASTS//MOTHER SHIP 

February 18, 2011

February 13, 2011

KITCHEN & THE PLASTIC SPOONS - Serve You! (7", 1980) + Icecream to God (Flexidisc, 1981)













   
Kitchen & the Plastic Spoons formed originally under the name Gdansk after members of Swedish punk bands Psyco and Porno Pop joined with singer Anne Taivanen for a festival gig in Stockholm. They added an extra synth player to become a five piece and self-released their first 7" in 1980. Adding Patrik Lindvall as guitar player in 1981, they released their final record, a flexidisc single, before calling it quits in the fall of that same year. Despite their brief time together, they must have been remarkably active. Besides the several songs found on various compilations, they also recorded many others left unreleased. A few years ago, a compilation of these songs came out on CD, shedding light on just how great and productive this band really was. Kitchen & the Plastic Spoons are the most essential group of Sweden's post punk scene. And "Happy Funeral" is one of the most fun songs of the entire genre.


O look my mother's grave, what a shame

February 9, 2011

Foet (2001/7)


As in foetus. An adaptation of F. Paul Wilson's short story by filmmaker Ian Fischer.

February 3, 2011

Politics as Unusual: China Trips the Light Fantastic

The following seeded clouds, lion-tamers, good soldiers, disike dancers, and mounted storks depicted in Communist China's brilliantly exaggerated propaganda posters span from just before Chairman Mao signaled the Cultural Revolution by swimming in the Yangtze River to the Socialist Spiritual Civilization that spawned the Strawberry generation in the 1980s. Rather than merely expect obedience, propaganda posters also gave their blessing, so to speak, to sanctioned ways of having fun as a Communist citizen. Through equal times of desperation and tremendous growth, propaganda remained an important means for China to convey optimism about the Communist future. 

Check out the first edition -- Politics As Unusual: Space Is the Chinese Place.
  
 
Youthful Dance Steps (1986)///Ge Xing (1989)

Twilight first shines on the military drilling ground (1974)

Face the enemy courageously (1979)///Work the clouds and sow rain to seize a bumper harvest (1976) 

White Rabbit Theater Play (1950s)

Xun hu yan yuan (1963)///The lion trainer (1987)

Practice hard to master the ability to kill the enemy, and be ready to combat at any instant (1970)

A ginseng child and sika deer (1987)///Joys of longevity (1983)

SOURCES

Stefan Landsberger has a great collection of Chinese propaganda posters
Additional Chinese propaganda posters reside here by the gobs.